Recently inducted Hall Of Fame trainer Chris...
Mark Kavanagh’s ultra-consistent weight-for-age warhorse Whobegotyou has firmed into 2011 Cox Plate favouritism following their gritty victory over Peter Moody’s previously undefeated mare Lights Of Heaven in the $200,000 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Lights Of Heaven went into the PB Lawrence Stakes, formerly the Liston Stakes, as the $2.10 favourite, the Group 1 Schweppes Oaks winner having had lots of late support in the market.
From her inside alley however Lights Of Heaven and jockey Ben Melham had little luck, getting caught up in the running allowing Whobeogtyou ($2.40) and his hoop Damien Oliver a clear run down the centre of the track.
While Lights Of Heaven put in a brave performance, making up ground late to storm home strongly, she was unable to reel in old ‘Whobe’ who finished a long-neck clear to win his first-up race for the season.
Surprise third a further long neck away again was $101 roughie, the Jason Clifford-trained Prince Obama.
“There is a fair bit of improvement in him too, so I’m pretty excited,” Whobegotyou’s trainer Kavanagh said after the win.
“He had the momentum and Lights Of Heaven was held up a little bit, but he won fair and square.
“He’s around the mark and he’s going to win his share of races through the spring.”
It was an important win for the Street Cry six-year-old, Whobegotyou ready to embark on his third Cox Plate attempt.
After his resuming victory, Whobegotyou firmed into the $9 favourite to take out the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22.
Having run sixth in 2009, Whobegotyou came within one and a half lengths of Cox Plate glory last year when finishing third behind dual champion So You Think and the now retired Zipping.
“He’s a bit bigger and burlier this year, but there’s no So You Thinks or More Joyous’s in it this year either,” Kavanagh said in regards to the level of competition Whobegotyou would face in the 2011 Cox Plate field.
Lights Of Heaven lost few admirers on Saturday and sits as the $10 second favourite in the latest Cox Plate odds.
Showing an excellent ability to step up to weight-for-age and perform, Lights Of Heaven also shortened into the clear $7.50 Caulfield Cup betting favourite over Queensland Oaks winner Scarlett Lady ($11).
It the odds for the Melbourne Spring Carnival’s showcase race, the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 1, Lights Of Heaven also holds favouritism paying $11 to become the 2011 Melbourne Cup winner.
Melham is rallying behind Lights Of Heaven and believes her run on Saturday, despite being regulated to second, showed she would be a crucial Cups contender in the coming months.
“If she draws any other barrier she just wins and wins pretty comfortably,” Melham said on Saturday.
“The way the race panned out, I had to shoulder out and while I was doing that Whobegotyou gained momentum around us.
“I know it’s not ideal, but if I’d led I think she would have won comfortably.
“The barrier beat her, but she deserves to be favourite for those races.”
Trainer Moody was a little heartbroken over Lights Of Heaven’s unbeaten run coming to an end, but gave full credit to the PB Lawrence Stakes winner.
“I’m not going to take anything away from Whobe,” Moody said.”
The PB Lawrence Stakes victory boosted Whobegotyou’s career record to 10 wins from 28 starts for over $3.23 million in prize money and he will look to add to that next start when defending his title in the $400,000 Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 10.
“He’ll have his next start in a month at the Valley and we’ll see where we go from there,” Kavanagh said.
“He could run in the Underwood or the Yalumba before the Cox Plate but he’ll tell us when he needs a race.
“This is his fourth spring carnival at the absolute top level and I want to choose the right races for him and run him when he’s right.”
Meanwhile Lights Of Heaven will continue her Melbourne Spring Carnival crusade by running in the $300,000 Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 3.
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